Dec 2017 - Gifts of Sight
"Gifts of Sight” Documentary
On December 6th, 2017, our membership was treated to a film documenting Judyth Gregory-Smith’s charity project in Myanmar, “Gifts of Sight”. The film maker, Sebastian Andrei, followed Judyth around Myanmar as she, and her Burmese helpers: driver Win San, and translator Saya Htay, doled out eyeglasses, new or used, to poor villagers in various remote districts of the country. The documentary showed us the process from beginning: collecting donated glasses, to end: finding villagers who need glasses. The film highlighted some of the many good uses the glasses are put to: weavers, basket makers, and bamboo splitters who are on the verge of losing their trade due to inability to see the weaving clearly, concrete makers who need to make cement mixtures accurately, toddy tappers who need to be able to climb palm trees and collect fermented palm sap without falling. Some villagers had not even been able to recognize their neighbors at short distance for quite some time.

The approach used was to go to the outskirts of small villages where the poorest of the poor live and ask for the oldest inhabitants. Slowly residents would come forward once it was known what was on offer. The glasses were in big suitcases divided into 3 categories: ‘Two way’ (bifocal), ‘awegi’ (for distance) or ‘anigyi’ (for close up/reading). A trial and error process would ensue as each needy villager had to search for a pair that worked. It was obvious from the smiling faces that the glasses were very much needed and provided great satisfaction to the new wearers.

Judyth is to be highly commended for initiating this much needed project which seems to grow by leaps and bounds with more and more trips undertaken annually to Myanmar. Donations also seem to multiply as several optical shops are now also providing both new and used glasses. Finally Sebastian is to be greatly applauded for providing a most vivid picture of the ‘’Gifts of Sight” project which Judyth had previously spoken about at an MCG meeting last March. Truly inspirational, both Judyth and Sebastian. Thank you.


Joanne Mahendran